Current Institutional Affiliation
Senior Lecturer, Sociology and Social Anthropology, Stellenbosch University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Chicago
Building a Respectable Home: Security and Social Differentiation in the KwaZulu-Natal Hinterland

This project investigates the ongoing and fraught process of building home in the rural and economically marginal community of Glendale, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In a place where social order has become unstable (especially because of the decline of regular work, the diminishing power of traditional authorities, and the increasingly tenuous position of government), I consider how particular anxieties about social homelessness have emerged, prompting local claims of the building of a "respectable home". Yet different understandings of respectability have proliferated, and the claim to a respectable home will be examined as an ongoing aspiration situating the speaker within a particular discursive domain. Methodologically assembling an archive of "texts about home and respectability", I will analyze how this search for security has produced the terms for new forms of social differentiation. These new local divisions speak directly to the question of how the poor attempt to forge social relationships and adequately situate themselves in South Africa and hopes to provide a lens through which comparative cases elsewhere could be examined.